Two Gwinnett County teenagers pleaded guilty Friday to beating, stabbing and killing Wendy and Randall Bjorge, but only one apologized and asked for forgiveness.
“I would like to express my deepest apologies to the Bjorge family. I'm so sorry for the pain and grief I have caused all of you,” Johnny Rider, 19, said. “I know what I have done is abominable and evil and is deserving of hellfire.”
Cassandra Bjorge, 17, cried, but declined to say anything when given the opportunity, Channel 2 Action News reported. Cassandra Bjorge is the granddaughter of Wendy and Randall Bjorge. She was living in their Lawrenceville home when she and Rider, her boyfriend, beat them with tire irons, stabbed them and slit their throats.
Rider could have faced the death penalty if the case had gone to trial; Cassandra Bjorge is not eligible for the death penalty because she is not 18. Because they pleaded guilty, each was sentenced to two life sentences with the possibility of parole in 60 years, plus 21 years to be served concurrently with the life sentences.
They had been charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, armed robbery and theft. The armed robbery and aggravated battery charges were dismissed.
Judge Debra Turner said the case was one of the worst she had presided over in her career.
“Your behavior lacks any sense of humanity or morality,” Turner told Rider and Cassandra Bjorge after they entered their pleas, according to Channel 2.
On the night of the killings in April 2017, Rider and Cassandra Bjorge waited outside Wendy and Randall Bjorge’s home until all the lights had been turned off. Once it was dark, they went inside. Rider began attacking Randall Bjorge with a tire iron, and Cassandra Bjorge dragged her grandmother into the same room, restraining her with duct tape and then beating her. The couple was stabbed multiple times before their throats were slit.
After the killings, Rider and Cassandra Bjorge sealed the bedroom in which the grandparents’ bodies began to decay. The bodies remained in the room for a week while the teens had food delivered, smoked marijuana and invited friends over for parties.
“I just continue to be stunned that you sealed areas so that you could make sure the smell of decay wouldn't be noticed,” Turner said. “That you had parties and ordered Chinese food.”
Police arrested Rider and Cassandra Bjorge a week after the killings occurred. The teens tried to kill themselves during a SWAT standoff, but survived the attempt and were taken into custody.
Cassandra Bjorge’s aunts and uncles, children of Wendy Bjorge and Randall Bjorge, told Turner they are still “haunted” by what happened. Sylvia Bjorge Berman, the couple’s daughter, has experienced “persistent anxiety and a profound sadness” since her parents’ deaths. Chris Bjorge, the couple’s son, said he sometimes talks to his parents’ ashes when nobody else is around.
“I’m still in shock and disbelief that such an event has occurred,” Chris Bjorge said. “I have anxiety that I can barely describe and anger that is boiling deep.”